Solving the BI question: Organisations need answers

By Naveen Miglani, CEO and Co-Founder, SplashBI

What is the key to a successful business? Answers! People are always going to have problems. A common issue, however, is that people are continuously searching for the newest, and quickest way to fix their problems so they can move on to the next task. The rapid pace of today’s business and tech worlds has proven to be troublesome in itself for some companies.

Add data into this mix and it doesn’t take long for organisations to start searching for a BI tool to give them the answers they need. How can I better retain my staff? What are my current leads and opportunities? How is my marketing campaign supporting lead generation? What else could we be doing to lock down new clients?

But really, organisations don’t need a Business Intelligence (BI) tool. They need answers. Choosing a BI tool is only one piece of the puzzle. Organisations can ultimately get reliable answers to their business questions by drilling down into their data, comprehending the insights hidden within, and using this actionable intelligence to drive the business forward.

A BI tool is not enough

When organisations are sold the data dream, they are often enticed by attention-grabbing visuals and eye-catching reports, filled with colours, charts and representations of all of their data in one place. This real-time overview of data enables organisations to adopt a far more strategic vision, and it places reports generated from HR data, historical inventory data, financial forecasts and customer spending patterns all within arm’s reach. But then comes the reality check.

When the BI sales team leaves and the contract has been signed, the actuality sinks in: now is the time for the HR, analytics, IT, sales or finance team – wherever the responsibility in the business may sit – to actually build these reports from the data in front of them.

The problem is, where do they start? For a marketing team looking to gain insight from their customer base, or a retailer that needs to know which products had the highest sales volumes before planning next season’s campaign, being presented with this data and no method for making sense of it can not only be demoralising, but very disengaging.

After all – they had signed on the dotted line with the goal of getting answers fast, which then seems unlikely of happening at all. To rectify the situation, organisations often must spend thousands of dollars in additional consulting fees, on top of the BI tool initially purchased, to achieve their data dream and get the answers they were looking for. In a challenging economy where organisations are already having to make tricky, tactical decisions on the fly, this doesn’t seem to make very good business sense, and it certainly isn’t a justifiable, long-term solution.

101 uses for BI

There are 101 uses for BI – yes, really! From scheduling regular automated reports to pulling data from multiple databases and data mining for deep analytical insights, there is a plethora of functionality that BI tools can offer that really do deliver business value for organisations. It’s just a case of unlocking it.

Viewing data trends in real-time, tracking the ROI of systems and setting goals of predictive analytics are not unachievable goals when using a BI tool. The dreams sold by the BI sales team can become a reality, and the problems really can be solved. A HR Director can use a data visualisation tool to track employee retention and skill development; a Marketing Manager can monitor web traffic specific to different marketing campaigns; a CFO can identify which departments are viable for cost-cutting and which are untouchable. To achieve this, a different approach to BI is needed.

Starting with simplicity

The problem is that organisations are currently making the BI process far too complicated. But really, HR Managers, Marketing Execs and CFOs don’t have to start from scratch; there is no need to build unique dashboards for every department when in fact many leaders are looking for the same answers.

The sunny side of today’s rapidly-changing technology is that solutions come around just about as fast as problems do. Problem: Building different dashboards across all departments is too difficult and time-consuming. Solution: Pre-built reports and dashboards allow any leader to quickly and efficiently track KPIs, metrics and key data points for their specific department.

The ability to leverage pre-built business analytics is a revelation; whether it’s of the complete marketing funnel or an overview of all employee data. Pre-packaged analytics enable organisations to find the answers to their business questions – from simple to complex – straight out of the box, subsequently increasing ROI and propelling the business to success.

By blending cross-application data, reporting results in real time, visually representing complex insights across dozens of data sources and analysing data to make smarter business decisions, organisations will no longer have to worry about needing a data scientist or specialist and concentrate on generating leads and closing deals.

Without the right mentality, and without asking the right questions, a BI tool is not enough. It’s time for organisations to take control of their data by asking the right questions and generating the insights needed to keep the business moving forward.

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